Does chocolate have any health benefits?

Because chocolate is so good to eat, we assume that like the other foods we enjoy, chocolate couldn’t be very good for us. Wrong. Research over the last so many years has discovered that chocolate, especially dark chocolate, has major health benefits in several areas. We often tend not to remember the chocolate is essentially a plant-based food.

Debra Miller, a chocolate expert with the Hershey Center for Health and Nutrition, says “The main ingredient in chocolate is cocoa beans – the seeds of the fruit of the cacao tree, Because of modern manufacturing and the common form of the ‘chocolate bar’, most people today don’t associate chocolate with its natural beginnings, but chocolate is essentially food of the earth.”

Chocolates are packed full of chemicals called anti-oxidants which promote good health and recent studies show that the compounds can reduce the risk of many diseases from cancer to heart ailments. In fact, pound for pound, chocolates and cocoa pack more antioxidants than green tea or red wine. Your body can be damaged by unstable oxygen molecules called free radicals which are thought to be the cause of many diseases. Antioxidants neutralize the effects of free radicals.

In addition to the antioxidants that contribute to your general good health, many scientists believe that chocolate also specifically contributes to the health of your heart and your cardiovascular system. The health of your cardiovascular system and in particular your heart depends on the free and efficient flow of blood through arteries that have no blockage. The natural chemicals that are present in chocolate and cocoa may contribute to this process by reducing blood pressure and increasing blood flow. Dr David Katz of Yale University, who conducted a study of the effect of chocolate on cardiovascular health in 2005, has this to say “This clearly suggests that dark chocolate isn’t just good; it’s good for you.”

  

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